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Shiels prepared to get hands dirty as hard labour begins

AFTER going over 18 months without work, Kenny Shiels would spend the weekend biding his time.

He had been named as the new Morton manager on Friday but would excuse himself from the formalities of the role on Saturday and observe the Cappielow side from the stand, as they suffered defeat by Alloa Athletic. Shiels would approach his players briefly after the match but they will be introduced to his reign properly this morning.

A seat away from the pitchside at Recreation Park allowed the Northern Irishman to see the bigger picture for his new side - as well as the goals from Andy Kirk and Declan McManus which did for the SPFL Championship's bottom club - and he would alight on areas of concern. Morton had been led to the top of the league by Allan Moore last season but the Cappielow side have been wandering aimlessly since then, with Saturday heralding the club's 11th league defeat of the campaign. The squad comprises players capable of accumulating more positive statistics and Shiels has acknowledged that.

He has also discerned that the Greenock side lacks direction, at least in terms of advancing to the point that they can have a shot at goal. Morton have spent the last three matches under the guidance of David Hopkin - who has been retained as Shiels' assistant - and have scored only once. Shiels intends to address that statistic ahead of his first full match in charge at home to Falkirk on Saturday.

"Morton are good in terms of possession and that is a good start for any team," said their new manager, who has agreed a contract until the end of next season. "While the possession is good it lacks penetration and I have told the players that. There is no point in dominating the ball if you cannot have a shot at goal. When you are down you feel a bit of injustice but [the players] have to take on more responsibility.

"Confidence needs to be lifted. Alloa had two shots and scored two goals. It can go like that. It was the same against Dundee last week where they scored with their first shot on 43 minutes but Morton had dominated possession."

The Greenock side needs work then, but Shiels is eager to get his hands dirty. He was sacked by Kilmarnock at the end of last season and has since occupied only a place on shortlists for vacant positions but nothing more tangible. Shiels intends to work expansively at Cappielow and referenced the ongoing work to the club's youth system as an area which interested him, yet his immediate attention will become fixed by a feeble first team.

"It is a different job in a different league to the Kilmarnock one and I am prepared for it mentally and physically," Shiels added. "I need the players to reciprocate that."

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